Photo Credit: Klass Family Archives
Rabbi Sholom Klass, z"l

By Some Of His Grandchildren, And A Forward By Naomi Klass Mauer And Hindy Greenwald

 

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From Naomi:

I asked some of my children and my sister Hindy’s children to write some of their memories of their grandfather. It is a beautiful tribute to his memory that their deepest memories are of him learning and teaching Torah. And that truly was his life. That was the reason he started The Jewish Press over half a century ago, and to this day we endeavor to keep Torah as the fundamental basis for this newspaper.

How I wish that he was still here to guide all of us with his deep insight and scrupulous adherence to Torah and mitzvot. There are great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren named after him, and all the grandchildren follow in his path. The chut hameshulash lo bimhera yinatek – the three pronged rope will not be torn asunder.

From Hindy:

Daddy I can’t believe that it has been 18 years since you died. I lost so much when we lost you. Whenever Naomi or I have a halachic question that we need answered, we miss you even more. I often think about how you and Mommy loved having Shabbos lunch at my home every week and how much pleasure you had when my sons walked you home. Of course we enjoyed the Friday nights when we came to visit you and you would tell us those wonderful Torah stories.

May your neshama have an aliyah and may you continue to be a meilitz yosher for all of us.

* * * * *

Memories of My Zaydie
By Miriam Klein

I was born on Zaydie’s birthday. I was his birthday present that year, and for many years on Shabbat afternoon when Zaydie and Bubby came for lunch we shared a birthday cake.

Zaydie always told us stories from the Gemara and other sefarim. I learned so much from him, and these are things that I quote to this day. His Torah is alive in my home and with my family.

I can never forget his funeral. Four highways were closed as we proceeded to the cemetery. I had never seen anything like it. It was so fitting for him to be honored in this way.

Zaydie met with presidents and prime ministers, but he remained humble and for me he was my beloved Zaydie, and I was always his “little doll.”

* * * * *

Rabbi Sholom Klass, Z”l, On His 18th Yahrzeit
By Shandee Fuchs

My grandfather, Zaydie Sholom, was a true giant of a man; literally and spiritually. To me as a young child, Zaydie standing 6-feet-tall really was physically a giant. However, as I grew and matured I learned that Zaydie was truly a giant of a man in spirit as well.

Zaydie had already begun publishing The Jewish Press a few years before I was born. He told me that he started the paper because of his love for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and most of all for Toras Yisrael. This was evident in the pages of The Jewish Press. Zaydie loved to learn Torah. Any spare moment that he had, he could be found learning. His home and office were full of sefarim that were all worn out from use. Wherever he went he would share divrei Torah and was disappointed if others didn’t have divrei Torah to share with him.

I am told that he was named Sholom, as he was born during World War I with the hope that there might be shalom in the world. Although peace between countries didn’t last for long, true to his name he did bring shalom into the world, as we are taught: “Talmidei chachamim increase the peace in the world.” By teaching Torah to thousands of people in the pages of The Jewish Press and through the actual classes that he gave, Zaydie increased shalom in the world.

Zaydie was a man of truth and honesty. His life was guided by the light of Torah and mitzvos. We are taught that the ways of the Torah are pleasant, and all its paths are shalom. Aside from meaning peace, shalom comes from the root of shalaim, meaning complete. A life of Torah is a complete life, as it encompasses every aspect of our lives. Zaidy’s life at the paper was just another aspect of his Torah. He used his success at the paper to help those in need, creating jobs for those who were unemployed, giving free advertising to those who were struggling, and tackling issues that others were afraid to taking a stand on. He would get involved in serious worldly and legal matters as he felt that it was his duty living a true life based on Torah to make all its paths shalom.

He is sorely missed in a world when finding the pleasant and peaceful path of Torah seems to be getting harder and harder. We, his family, try to live according to the path that he set out for us by learning and living Toras Yisrael. We pray that Hashem grant us the zechus of transmitting to the next generation the sweetness, pleasantness and shalom/shleimus of Torah, amen.

* * * * *

Zaydie
By Suri Aron

I remember how I looked forward to going to Bubby and Zaydie’s house on Friday nights. Of course I was excited to see Bubby, but even as a little girl I waited to hear Zaydie’s stories from the parsha. There were many interesting things to see in their house, but instead of roaming the house I would sit and listen to all the Torah stories that Zaydie would tell. And I was never bored.

During the week when I would visit Zaydie he would be in his den learning Gemara. I would stand there and admire all of those sefarim. They were wall to wall sefarim. And even though he was busy concentrating he was happy to see me and smiled at me and never got annoyed by the interruption.

I was young when he died and I am sorry that I missed so much of his life, but the Torah that he taught lives on in our lives and that of our children.

* * * * *

My Zaydie
By Dovid Schwartz

I cannot believe it’s been 18 years. Where has the time gone?

I can still remember coming to your house every Friday night to sit at your table like it was yesterday. How your face would shine when you would see me. It was as if you had waited all week for that moment. You would waste no time and would immediately challenge me with a question from the parsha. When I would struggle to find an answer, you would start mesmerizing me with your vast knowledge of the Talmud and unmatched story telling abilities. You would speak of our sages as if they walked amongst us and it was evident that to you, they did. I remember how happy it made you to sing zemiros, and how sad you were when I had to eventually go home.

I remember going to shul with you in Brighton Beach on those cold Brooklyn mornings. Many people would not brace the cold, but not you. Getting into your car, watching my breath freeze in the cold air, I would peek over to see you smiling ear to ear at the zechus to daven with a minyan each day. The shul we went to was not the closest to your house, but you were so intensely loyal to your shul that you would never consider going anywhere else. I recall you putting out a few quarters every day for me to put in the pushka for the poor people. You were so consistent, you never missed a day without putting out those quarters, in line with the ruling of the Rambam regarding the mitzvah of tzedaka that one must overcome his yeitzer every day to give charity and not just give one lump sum.

I remember when I would give siyumim at the Homowack Hotel during the Nine Days, you would sit proudly and just wait to pounce on anyone questioning the heter to eat meat at a siyum. You were such a believer in koach deheteira adif. You knew all the sources your opponents knew; but you were never afraid to take it upon your big shoulders to pasken for the tzibbur like the mekeilim.

This same resolve was called upon many times and you never flinched. I recall discussing the Manhattan Beach eiruv with you. How many Rabbis tried to dissuade you from pushing it forward. But you stood firm and even funded the eiruv, which has now lead to an incredible growth of yiddishkeit in the neighborhood as young Jewish families can take their young children to shul on Shabbos. All because you didn’t back down.

Two weeks ago, we read in parshat Vaera how Hashem, kaveyachol, laments that while Moshe Rabbeinu questioned Hashem, the Avos never complained. Rashi quotes a Gemara (Sanhedrin 111a): “Chaval al de’avdin ve’lo mishtakchin – We suffer a great loss for those [the Patriarchs] who are lost and [whose replacement] cannot be found. I must lament the death of the Patriarchs.”

Zaydie, you too have no replacement and even after eighteen years it is still evident that we suffered a great loss. Eighteen is the equivalent of chai and the nechama we take is that you are still chai in the hearts and souls of your banim u’venei banim that are oskim baTorah uv’mitzvot.

* * * * *

A Few Thoughts
By Meir Greenwald

I have fond memories of spending summers in the country in upstate New York where Zaydie would “give class” on the front lawn of the Homowack Hotel every Shabbos morning for almost 15 years. First family would come, but over time it grew and grew to sometimes over 100 guests of the hotel. All mesmerized with tales of the Talmud and parsha parables. Zaydie had a way of captivating an audience.

Any opportunity Zaydie had to give over Torah wasn’t missed. From car rides to work or to the local market, strolls in rain or shine, even at work in his office with visiting politicians. I was there when former Governor Mario Cuomo paid him a visit. Politics quickly turned to how the governor could solve many of the state’s problems with advice from the Talmud.

Yes, Zaydie always had Torah on his lips, but it was with his grandchildren that he got the most pleasure.

The Shabbos meals every week at my parents’ house, filled with songs and laughter, were, I believe, the highlight of his week.

In the 18 years Zaydie has been gone, I’ve come to appreciate what a giant he really was. As I learn and study Torah with my own son, I realize that what made Zaydie so special wasn’t just his love for Torah but how much he loved and desired to give it over to as many people as he could.

May Zaydie continue to watch over his family and all of the children of Israel.

* * * * *

Remembering Zaydie
By Zevie Schwartz

I think back 25 years and more, and imagine myself in Zaydie Sholom’s shoes. I do this by remembering different occasions and different day-to-day events and imagine myself making the decisions at those junction points. Sadly, I fall short of his behavior on most examples I think of.

I remember walking into Zaydie’s office and seeing him put down the Gemara he was learning during work hours. I can’t remember the last time this happened to me, where I was learning during work hours. I remember all of his friends coming with the whole family to the Homowack Hotel for a weekend, and Zaydie paying for all of them. I can’t think when I did that for my friends. I remember many jobs he created for family and friends, just because they needed parnasah; here too, I come up short. I remember hearing stories told from the beginning of The Jewish Press, of weeks he didn’t take a salary, because he wanted to make sure that the workers all got paid, I don’t know if I can even reach that madregah. I remember Zaydie going on for hours with Gemara stories, not only quoting the Gemara, but their exact source; here too, I have long given up on achieving this goal in this lifetime.

I can go on and on, on what a special person Zaydie was, and how we all fall short of his actions in his life, but what Zaydie helps me most in understanding is the Gemara in Shabbat, page 112b: “Im rishonim ke’malachim, anu kivnei adam; ve’im rishonim kivnei adam, anu ka’chamorim” – “If the sages were like angels we are like human beings; if the sages were human, than we are like donkeys.” This is a hard concept to grasp, until we put it to the test, and see how even two generations back, this apparently is true. Let us all try and keep in mind great people we were zoche to know in our lifetime as living proof to the Gemara above.

* * * * *

My Zaydie Sholom
By Michal Popper

So many years have gone by since the passing of my dear grandfather and Torah scholar Rabbi Sholom Klass. It is written in the Gemara that grandparents are like parents as well. This was so true regarding my dear Zaydie.

Although I lived far away in Israel our relationship was strong and loving. My grandfather was a very learned rabbi, who was always concerned with my Torah studies. When I would call from overseas that was one of his first questions to me. He would say, “Do you know this week’s parsha?” And then he would proceed to tell me a story that matched that week’s Torah reading.

When I was 12 years old my family moved back from Israel to the U.S. for a few years. This was a hard move for me since I loved living in Israel so much. Knowing that I was going to be close by to my Zaydie was what kept me going. I remember going with my grandfather to shul and was so proud when I was asked who I came to shul with, and I would lift my head up high and say with my Zaydie Sholom. He was kind and loving and always had a smile on his face. Many times on Shabbat I would go and sit at my grandparents table and sing with them songs for hours. Zaydie always had a beautiful tale from the Gemara to tell and I always sat there riveted. Needless to say, I learned so much from my grandfather. He was very kind and did tremendous tzedaka with everyone he could, not just family.

He loved Israel and did all that was in his power to support and help out when it came to Israel in every way possible. Before I moved back to Israel I brought my Zaydie a singing flower, since I wanted him to always by happy when he thought about me. Any time he would clap his hands the flower would start to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” Time can fade away many things, but the wonderful memories and friendship that I had with my grandfather only grow bigger and fonder as the years pass by.

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